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Final Fantasy Chronicles Preview by IGN

June 28, 2001 - I never finished this game when I was younger. I don't even know if I got as far back then as I have now, playing the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy 2, or Final Fantasy II, or whatever convention of nomenclature you adhere to). I think I probably got stuck somewhere on Mt. Ordeals, because I hadn't leveled up Cecil enough, and then my mother arrived to haul me back to my game-console-free home. I saw and followed my friends' games all the way through to the end on a couple of occasions, but I never personally got to play through what I still think is one of the best RPGs ever made.

Which is why these impressions have a more personal bent than usual. I'm very fond of Final Fantasy IV, and I'm very fond of Squaresoft for going out of its way to do a proper job bringing it to the United States. The PlayStation emulation is not perfect, and even though our current version is unfinished I expect the Mode 7 effects will never be quite the same as they were, but the new translation is first-rate, and I'm already noticing items and other game elements that never made it into the SNES version.

At the same time, Squaresoft's localization team obviously knows that some things ought not be changed. When Tellah first unleashes his fury upon Edward, yes, he still says it: "YOU SPOONY BARD!" Whoever is editing this text obviously has both a sense of history and a sense of humor.

Mainly, though, they just have a good ear for dialogue and how to express the iconic personalities of the characters. They're better at it than the original translators by a long shot, anyway. Palom and Porom are my favorites, so far, Porom being amusingly officious for her age, while Palom has a laid-back, slangy voice -- he introduces himself to Cecil with a superdeformed nod and a "S'up, dude?" The script isn't anywhere near as heavily inflected as Chrono Cross or Threads of Fate, but it still has a very relaxed feel and natural flow.

Various specifics have been changed along with the overarching character of the script, but in an oddly scattershot fashion. The spell name length is still five characters, so Tellah is still in search of the legendary "Meteo" spell (whatever that means), but the item names are extended to accomodate the reintroduction of several spell-like objects and other items that were taken out of the SNES version of the game. This more or less makes sense, but I'm puzzled by the changes in some of the monster names -- for example, the fiend of Water is now "Cagnazzo" instead of "Kainazzo," the script editors being evidently unaware that "cagna" means something extremely rude in Italian.

Further changes await, I'm certain -- personally, I'm looking forward to finding out whether they kept Cid's famous porno mag. Luckily, even in the preview version we have right now, bugs and load times are not high on the list of additions. Battles begin more or less instantaneously, and while the wait to save your game to a memory card is extremely long, the "Memo" feature lets you quick-save your game and keep playing, so you only have to sit through the lengthy regular save once per game session. I'm experiencing sound glitching every now and again, music tracks skipping and so forth, but I'd likely attribute that to our cantankerous PS2 debug unit (no graphical glitches as yet accompany playing the game on PS2, incidentally). About the only thing I can complain about at this stage is, as I said, the scaling background effects. Like the similar elements in the PlayStation version of Grandia, they're very jerky, although the Mode 7 world map scrolls past very smoothly once your airship has taken off and so forth.

Am I going to actually finish this game? Doubtful, but I'll certainly try, and regardless of my situation, Square's offered an excellent opportunity to gamers who want to live or re-live one of the best 16-bit RPGs. Look forward to its release in June, and come back tomorrow for our thoughts on the other half of Final Fantasy Chronicles: Chrono Trigger.

-- David Smith

Original Announcement
Square Electronic Arts announced today the company's plan to release Final Fantasy Chronicles: Final Fantasy IV & Chrono Trigger in July 2001 for PlayStation. The special bundle package includes updated versions of Square's Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger role-playing games that were originally released in North America for the Super NES in 1991 and 1995, respectively.

"We are pleased to deliver these two titles to our North American fans on the PlayStation game console," said Jun Iwasaki, president of Square Electronic Arts. "Since the release of Chrono Cross last August, we've received an overwhelming number of fan requests to re-release Chrono Trigger for the PlayStation game console. We have added a variety of new features to both Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger for this compilation and believe this set will appeal to fans of the original games and introduce a new generation of gamers to some of our classic titles."

The Final Fantasy Chronicles set includes new opening and closing cinematic sequences for Chrono Trigger as well as several re-creations of key sequences during the game, which add to the game's emotional impact, answers lingering questions, and offers insight into the game's successor, Chrono Cross.

Final Fantasy IV will feature a new dash feature for players to quickly move through dungeons and towns, plus a new two-player mode that enables two players to participate in the battles together. And in a move that should please fans of the original who weren't too thrilled with the mediocre writing found in the Super NES version, Square has opted to use a completely new and improved localization of the original unedited storyline. Final Fantasy IV also will feature new cinematic sequences and some original monsters, abilities, items and scenes that were not seen in the Super NES version.

Final Fantasy Chronicles: Final Fantasy IV & Chrono Trigger will be released in July 2001 for PlayStation and will carry a suggested retail price of $40. It carries an ESRB rating of "T" (Teen).

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